Approximately 70 percent of the seed soybeans planted this year in Minnesota will be treated with fungicides. This is a dramatic change from 10 years ago when most farmers planted untreated soybeans. This change requires increased care to keep seed soybeans separate from harvested soybeans headed to market.

Federal law provides a zero tolerance for treated soybeans at market. That means that a single treated seed can contaminate a truck, bin or silo. Your elevator can hold you legally responsible for the contamination because of a problem that started with one treated soybean.

University of Minnesota Extension recommends that growers take these steps to avoid mistakes that can take place during the rush of planting:

  • Make sure nobody on your farm dumps leftover soybean seed into a storage bin.
  • Do not use the same equipment to transport treated seed and soybeans sold for grain.
  • Clean all equipment that comes in contact with treated seed.
  • Manage treated seed before and after planting to reduce the potential for problems.
  • Buy only the seed you need to minimize dealing with leftover treated soybeans.
  • Work with your seed supplier to develop a plan to dispose of any leftover treated seed.

A Chinese buyer could reject a ship loaded with millions of dollars of soybeans because of contamination that may have started on your farm. One out of every four rows of soybeans grown in the U.S. are exported to China. Mixing treated and untreated soybeans can cause a trail of contamination stretching from your farm through domestic elevators and ending with a rejected shipment and a damaged reputation for soybeans grown in the U.S.

In addition to avoiding costly penalties because of soybean contamination, handling treated soybeans with care is the right thing to do. Fungicides have a place in seed beds, but not on a dinner plate, which is why it's important to keep treated seed soybeans separate from your soybean harvest.

Take time this spring to pay attention to farm safety, both your personal safety and the safety of the crops that you grow. For more information for soybean growers, visit